Pictured are Jamie and Craig, with Allison and Jillian doing well at 16 weeks in August of 2017.
Our 2017 Winter Mailer features to story of Jamie and Craig and their stay at the House when their twin daughters were born prematurely. Below is Jamie’s story in her own words.
In the early morning hours of May 1, 2017, our world completely changed. I was only 27 weeks along in my pregnancy with twin girls, when my water broke. My husband and I arrived at the hospital in Springfield, fearing the worst. Two days later, our girls were born on May 3, 2017. They were so tiny with Allison weighing 2 pounds 3 ounces and Jillian weighing 2 pounds 9 ounces. Both girls spent over 50 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The evening I was released from the hospital we went directly over to the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Springfield where we were greeted and quickly checked in. From the moment we walked in the door everyone was so helpful and supportive.
For the next eight weeks the RMH became our home away from home. Craig was still working full-time and was able to visit on weekends and stay at the House while visiting. It was comforting to be so close to the hospital knowing that I could quickly be by the girls’ side if needed at any time of day. It was amazing to watch our girls grow stronger every day, and I feel that my continued presence made that possible. All of the volunteers were comforting, always asking about how the girls were and if we needed anything. It was also nice to have other families in the House going through the same things we were and to be able to share stories and celebrate the little successes our children were making. The House had everything that we needed free of charge including toiletries, laundry supplies, snacks and so much more. The guest chefs that prepared meals throughout the week were wonderful. It was nice to come home in the evenings to a hot, home-cooked meal– just one more amenity that took a lot of the worries off my mind. All of this is possible due to the generous donations RMH receives from the community. It seemed like every day someone was dropping by fresh flowers, fresh fruits, donuts and even handmade quilts and toys for siblings that were staying in the House. All of these things meant so much during our stay.
We are already talking to the girls about the RMH and will in the future as well so they know how important it is and how the House helped our family when we needed it most. We plan to pay it forward as the girls get older by participating as guest chefs and making donations to the House to help other families that are in similar situations that we found ourselves in when they were born. We hope you will join us in sharing the spirit of the season by giving a gift or donation to the House this winter.
When MaryBeth arrived at the hospital last summer due to complications with her pregnancy, she did not know the lengthy ordeal she was beginning. MaryBeth’s daughter, MaryKate, and her son, Henry, were both born premature shortly after her arrival. MaryBeth learned that the twins would need to remain in the NICU for several months. Due to her children’s medical needs, she and her family could stay at the Ronald McDonald House for as long as needed, at absolutely no cost.
MaryBeth stayed at the House for over four months. Sadly, MaryKate passed away but her brother Henry’s care continued. She was relieved she had a safe and comfortable place to stay that was just across the street from the hospital. During a challenging time, MaryBeth was able to focus on what was most urgent- her son, having a warm bed, hot meals and a comforting environment to return to.
Mary Beth explains, “Ronald McDonald House is someplace that you do not think about until you or someone you know has benefited from it. The generous donations that enabled me to stay 116 days of Henry’s 120 day NICU stay are phenomenal! Those donations allowed me to be with my son every day throughout his care; our family will never be able to aptly show our gratitude to the supporters of the Ronald McDonald House! I truly believe that Henry is thriving today because of the generous supporters that allowed me to be with my son every day!”
During her time here, MaryBeth was able to be close to Henry day and night. Her husband Robert, who worked full time, and their daughter Aurora would frequently visit on the weekends. During their visits they too could stay at the House free of charge and have a comfortable place to eat, rest and play. Their two-year-old daughter, Aurora, lovingly calls the facility the “clown house” and always looked forward to playing on the playground or visiting with the staff. Like many parents here, MaryBeth quickly built friendships with other parents who had children in the hospital, which she maintains even after her time at the House.
“The guest chefs are so wonderful! Words can not express how wonderful it is to come home to a home-cooked meal. Many times meals were the only break many of us would take away from our babies. As Aurora and Henry get older, we plan on being guest chefs and giving that comfort back to other families.”
Henry was released from the hospital several months after he was born. Henry still requires regular check-ups from his doctor in Springfield, which can be difficult as MaryBeth and Robert live over two hours away. For several of these appointments, MaryBeth and Henry have been able to stay at the House, alleviating long travel times and stress on these days.
MaryBeth and Henry came to the House this past summer while in town for a check up and to visit with the staff. Henry will soon celebrate his first birthday as a healthy strong baby with the rest of his family! It is through the kindness of many businesses, families and individuals who support our work at Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois, that stories like Henry’s and MaryBeth’s are possible.
Wynter was born 16 weeks early on November 27, 2015. She weighed only 14 ounces – not even one pound!
Beginning last December, her mom, Sara, stayed at our Ronald McDonald House while Wynter received care at St. John’s Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). From time to time, her grandma, Teresa, and sisters, Autumn and Summer, would also stay at the House while Wynter was growing big and strong in the NICU.
After almost eight months, Wynter finally went home on July 20, 2016 (pictured here). Because of your support, her family was able to stay at the House free of charge for the entire eight month period. Her mom, Sara, had this to say:
“The Ronald McDonald House has meant so much to my family. They have become a part of our family. Throughout the ups and downs of having a preemie, they were there to support us and offer encouragement, always asking how Wynter was doing and if we needed anything. We can’t ever say thank you enough for allowing us to stay by Wynter while she was receiving the care she needed. It was such a scary time, but the House made it all so much more bearable.”
There’s more to Wynter’s family’s story! Her cousin, Freya, was born 16 weeks early as well on August 13, 2016. Now Freya’s mom and dad, Jennifer and Matt, are staying at the Ronald McDonald
House while Freya takes her turn at growing big and strong in the NICU (pictured to the right).
For this family, the Ronald McDonald House has truly become their home away from home while their little loved ones receive the best medical care possible. Because of your support, Wynter’s family has been able to stay at the Ronald McDonald House for over 350 nights at no cost to them. This winter, please help us continue to keep families like Wynter’s close. Your gift will enable us to provide family-centered care that babies need to be healthy and strong.
The following was published in our Summer 2016 Newsletter, from Carly:
Hi Friends –
When I was diagnosed with T-cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma on November 15, 2015, it was scary. My family and I live in Saybrook, Illinois, so we had to travel to Springfield for the best care I could receive. The week of my diagnosis, my mom, dad and aunt took turns staying with me and at the Ronald McDonald House. I was so glad they were able to stay close by while I was in the
I’m still receiving treatment and it is nice for my mom to be able to stay at the House while we’re in town. My mom says the staffis very friendly and makes our family feel at home. She also said it was easy to be able to do laundry and grab something to eat at the House whenever she wanted during my hospital stay. While I’m at the hospital, I sometimes see the Ronald McDonald House
Happy Wheels Cart! The Happy Wheels Cart ladies know I love the stuffed animals, so they always have some special ones for me to pick out. Even Ronald McDonald stops by with the cart to visit!
My school, Ridgeview Elementary, has been collecting pop tabs to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in my honor. Mom and I drop them off at the House when we come to town for my treatments. We’ve collected over 85 pounds since November!
It’s comforting to know my family can stay close to me while I receive care for my cancer, and it’s all because of your support. Thank you – seeing my family makes me really happy.
Read about the Barclay Family, from Glennette Barclay:
In August, our son, Luke, 17, was involved in an accidental explosion. He experienced second and third degree burns over 65 percent of his body, requiring seven skin grafting surgeries and a three month stay at Memorial Medical Center’s Regional Burn Unit. As a mom, the experience has been overwhelming. My husband and I have felt completely helpless, watching our son be in excruciating pain and struggle every day to recover with nothing we could do to make him feel better. Our journey has been physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting – and truly traumatic. I could not bear to think how much worse it would have been without the comfort of the Ronald McDonald House.
For the first two weeks after Luke’s accident, we stayed at the hospital because Luke was so critical and we didn’t want to leave his side. Once he was stable, we learned about the Ronald McDonald House. When we were shown our room, I started to cry. The amount of relief I felt was indescribable. We had a place to put our stuff, our own bathroom, and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. It seems small, but having an actual bed during this difficult time was such a huge comfort and it made all the difference for us.
We still have a long road ahead of us, but the support we have received from the Ronald McDonald House, its staff and volunteers has been incredible. Without the House, I would not have been able to cope with our situation, not to mention been able to afford it. No one plans for their child to experience a severe burn accident and have the closest burn unit be two hours away from home. Thankfully, Ronald McDonald House helped us absorb a part of our critical needs during the worst unexpected experience of our lives. We could not be more grateful, and we plan to pay it forward for all that the House has done for us.
Pictured above are James, Luke, Tiffiney and Glennette Barclay, prior to Luke’s accident.
The Frankovich Family came to RMHCCI last year when baby Allison was born with a prolapsed cord, which cut off all the blood supply and oxygen to her body. While at St. John’s Children’s Hospital, she had a stroke which caused further damage. Doctors thought Allison might not be able to swallow food and they suspected she might have Cerebral Palsy, but Allison made a full recovery and just celebrated her first birthday.
After their stay at our House, the Frankovich Family decided that if Allison could live to see her first birthday in good health, they would have a birthday party where guests would bring gifts to donate to our Ronald McDonald House! Needless to say, the results were amazing (as shown here)! Party attenders and several other members of the Decatur community pitched in to give toys, cleaning supplies, food, bed linens, hangers, personal care items and much more to our House for our families to use, as well as $1,800!
The Frankovich’s caught the attention of local news station, WAND, too! Their story was featured on the news that evening, and because of that, even more donations were brought by our House! Allison and her mom, Janice, are pictured above on the day they dropped off all of the items.
We are truly grateful to them for their support and we are so happy that “Big Al” is doing so well!